Everything we know about Fireworks (Fw), which is worth knowing, was taught to us by Jim Babbage. We are among those who carefully comb over the latest editions of Classroom in a Book (CIB), looking for what's new as something of a checklist of what is to be mastered. Jim's efforts with Fw CS6 CIB gets our award for the best revised and improved edition of a previous CIB. Not only are there changes to all the chapters but Jim primarily provides all new visual examples for the pages and lessons.
For starts, Fireworks has to be the most misunderstood app in the Master Collection. With a cursory glance, Fw causes many to either say, "I can do this in Photoshop (Ps)." or "I can do this in Illustrator (Ai)." However, that's not what Fw is all about. It's a web designer's toolbox. And, yes, that requires the manipulation of pixel or vector based art.
In its earlier life, under the Macromedia nameplate, Fw was supposed to permit you to create web graphics without the need for Ps and Ai. Today, we know that people think of Ai and Ps as design solutions. So, why do you need Fireworks if you can do that with the other two long-time Adobe apps? Just breeze through this CIB and if you are up to speed on Ps and Ai. it will be more than obvious that Fw is chuck full of features which Ps and Ai cannot touch.
Chapter one assumes that you know nothing about other Adobe CS6 apps and you have not worked in Fw before. It gets you up to speed with the tools and panels. If you're new to Fw, don't blow through this chapter thinking that you already know everything. There are some goodies hidden in it which are specific to Fw.
Again, the second chapter may cause users of other CS6 apps to think, "I know about layers, and pages, so I can skip this one." And, that would be a partial truth, however, if you skip the materials on states you will be confused by what else is presented in the chapters which follow.
If you're doing these lessons with the idea of mastering Fw, no mater how much you know about Photoshop, don't let the third chapter's title about bitmap images fool you into thinking that you can skip this, too. You can't. It's very specific to Fw. If you want to own the power of Fw, work through every lesson and read every paragraph. The same is true of the fifth chapter, which we found to be quite impressive. It has more than step-by-step approaches to the technology of Fw. This provides some great direction for smart, efficient workflow and achieving accurate results.
When it comes to vector art, if you have not mastered it in Ai, you can't expect this book to take you through all of it in one chapter. Nevertheless, it provides you with all the basics. The lessons have well executed examples for you to work with and at this point in the book you can begin to feel visually inspired by the work you do, a long-standing hallmark of the best CIBs.
Masking is a little tricky and many a creative professional would prefer a root canal to mastering it. In all candor we are not fans how Fw handles some of this. We get better results in Ps. However, carefully follow these lessons of the sixth chapter and do not allow yourself to use it as an excuse to not learn what you may have been avoiding. It's quite easy in Fw.
If you're used to how text works in InDesign (ID) or Ai, you may feel a bit outside of familiar territory with Fw. Things work just a bit different, there. The seventh chapter makes no assumptions about your knowledge of typography terms, but it's also not a boring more-of-the-same set of lessons. By the fifth page you are making creative application of type. This CIB uses your time efficiently.
At less than the halfway point of the book, the eighth chapter moves you into aspects of Fw which are unique to the rest of the Master Collection's apps. These may be the parts you've been waiting to dive into. The chapter is all about styles and the styles panel. The "styles" name may seem misleading to you if you have ID's paragraph styles in the back of your mind or the cascading style sheets (CSS) of Dreamweaver (Dw). However, the concepts are very similar. The difference is that you are applying Fw styles to objects rather than text. The lessons take you through what could be utilized for making three dimensional buttons.
Again, the ninth chapter's title of "symbols" might have you thinking that it's talking about type ornaments. That's not 100% far off the mark. Think of a type ornament as a graphic symbol and you're starting to understand what Fw has to offer. In short, you'll learn how to create graphics for a library of symbols which you can quickly apply to web pages. An excellent example of this would be buttons, which are unique to a website, which must appear again and again on page after page. The lessons even include animated symbols. It's a very empowering chapter in which you can begin to see your learning efforts producing finished pages. At this point, you should feel as if you get what Fw is all about.
The ten chapter on optimizing for the web is extensive. It's the point where the reader goes from working with cool visuals to needing to understand some of the mechanics of the web. For some, this might be a little mind boggling, if you've never walked those streets before. Fortunately, you're not walking them alone, after midnight. Work with these pages slowly and take a break if needed. Please remember that it's not about completing the lessons. You want to complete this chapter absorbing every morsel of it. If necessary, take breaks. It's a well-planned learning experience.
The biggest and most powerful feature of Fw, for us, is prototyping. In summary, Fw allows you to create a website and/or mobile device app and demonstrate the whole blooming thing to a client. The eleventh chapter is both instructive and downright clever in the lessons. You'll hopefully work through with a feeling of great accomplishment. Once you finish applauding your work, gear up for a far move challenging, but doable, industrial-strength lesson in prototyping for chapter twelve.
The final chapter, in the book, very responsibly guides you through how Fw interacts with other apps for an excellent examination of your working as smartly and efficiently as possible. This avoids your being lulled into the belief that you can do all things in Fw.
Just because chapter 13's last page takes you to the index it does not mean that you are finished. There's a fourteenth chapter on the DVD as a bonus. A cool new set of features were added to Dw CS6 for mobile devices. If you've been working with Fw for a few cycles, you'll appreciate this one.
In conclusion, this is THE best book on Fireworks ever done. It's a must have. We are pleased to give it a solid stars.